Given the health benefits of nuts, our family keeps a ready supply of in-the-shell organic nuts on hand for snacking. One of the benefits of cracking fresh nuts is that you tend to eat fewer because you have to work for each bite, but we still accumulate a good amount of nutshells. While these could go into the compost bin, they tend to decompose much slower than other kitchen waste, so we’ve started using them as fire kindling instead.
Whenever we find ourselves with a fire in the woodstove that is nearly out, or that needs a boost because of the presence of damp wood, we toss in a handful or two of the nutshells. The effect is explosive. We speculate it’s due to the wood-like composition of the shells combined with the nut oils present in them. We keep a small copper bucket full of shells near — but a safe distance from — the woodstove so we can easily dip in when needed. We mostly use walnut, almond, pecan and pistachio shells.